By Bobby Jennings
The dining room at Strike 12 Restaurant was filled with local officials, politicians, and business owners late Thursday afternoon for United States Senator Joe Manchin's visit.
Manchin, who knows no stranger in Taylor County, greeted the crowd with confidence, expressing a genuine appreciation for everyone in attendance.
Of all those present for the meeting, the most surprised with the visit had to have been Chris Loftis, the new owner of the facility. Loftis was invited by Manchin to introduce himself and tell a little bit about their purchase of the bowling alley and restaurant. After doing so, Manchin proceeded to complement Loftis and his family on such a business adventure, especially during such hard economic times.
"Growing up, my grandfather told me about a lot of statues that he had seen. Some of them thinkers, others on horseback, while others were leading soldiers in battle. But, one statute he never saw was a man setting on a fence," noted Manchin.
Manchin concluded the extension of his appreciation to the Loftis family by thanking them for stepping forward and doing what they had done for Taylor County by opening this business, especially during a time when things seemed the roughest.
Manchin went on to describe the state of our nation as being a "difficult time." But, clarified by saying, "I never said impossible."
He went on to note that our nation is facing the most financially challenging time that it has ever seen. Sadly, he noted, that it is all "self-inflicted." "We are not living within our means," noted Manchin.
Manchin went on to explain that he does not believe that it is our task to police the world. "We can change the world, but we will do so by living the right example on American soil."
Manchin cited an opportunity to which he heard retired Admiral Mullen questioned concerning "what was the biggest threat facing America," to which Mullen responded, "the national debt." "The debt of our nation is going to destroy us from within," warned Manchin.
Manchin continued his discussion by noting that we, as a nation, need a balanced tax system, which is fair to everyone. He explained that we need to cut back on wasteful spending, not on education, not on defense, and not on research. "We need to see where we can strategically cut waste," stated Manchin.
"We need to make the correction, and if we don't, the correction on December 31 is going to come, and we won't like it," noted Manchin.
Manchin stood firm on his belief that elected officials have to put the state and nation first, even if it means crossing the isle to do so. "Rome is burning because we have no water. We haven't learned how to work together."
Manchin not only discussed the economy, but the broadband initiative, welfare and social security reform, coal and natural gas opportunities for the state, as well as, healthcare reform. In each of the areas discussed, Manchin was able to say, "Fix the problem, don't make it worse."
Being the West Virginian he is, Manchin invited every politician present to introduce themselves, including what office they are running for, and whether they will be an incumbent, or new to the office.
He later joked with Senator Bob Williams about never being blessed to be able to run unopposed, as Williams is in this election. The joke continued with other officials going into the November election without opponents, as in case of Taylor County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy, Terring Skinner.
In closing, Manchin shared a summation of how he will serve our nation and state once again, if given the opportunity, with common sense as the key. "Common sense is how we were raised here in our little communities in West Virginia."
He went on to conclude that it is through common sense that West Virginians have learned to survive and thrive, and if permitted to return to Washington as our Senator, that he would do his best to get our federal government to learn to use a "common sense" approach in the decisions it makes for all of us.